I had the pleasure of interviewing Marie Forleo this week during the midst of her wildly successful launch of her online business program B-School.
Confession. I don’t interview people very often. And I certainly don’t record these interviews. So this was a first and unfortunately the audio is not perfect. However, I strongly suggest you listen to the whole thing to hear what Marie shares about her beginning years of B-School, how she’s built and maintains a strong team, and her B-School wisdom.
I’ve also provided the full interview transcript in case you’d rather read Marie’s answers. It was a fantastic, golden-nugget filled conversation.
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SUE B: Hey everyone it’s Sue B. And I want you to know that I had the pleasure of interviewing Marie Forleo, the founder of B-School and we have an amazing conversation. I asked her 6 different questions and I know that you want to tune in and listen. However, it sounds like Marie is under the water when she’s answering the questions, so the audio isn’t perfect, but you know me it’s all about progress not perfection and I know you’re going to want to tune in because I asked Marie some fun questions at the end like “What ingredients do you love to put in your green juice?” And of course I asked her “What is your favorite Instagram account?” So tune in and listen, know that it’s not perfect but I still know that you’re going to get a shit ton of value out of listening to Marie.
SUE B: Hey Marie, it’s so great to have you on live, I want everyone who’s to know that your words of wisdom that land in my inbox every Tuesday and take me over to YouTube always give me insanely awesome golden nuggets that continue to help me set my business up for success, and like you I pride myself being a lifetime learner and I think it’s so important to understand that learning and growing personally and professionally is a big part of the process in being a successful entrepreneur and I’m just curious how many years have you been hustling as an entrepreneur because I think a lot of people listening think you just started with just B-School.
Marie:I mean this is gonna be, I think we are in the 16th or 17th year of us doing business. You know, when I quit my job when I was the ripe old age of 23, that’s when I started. I’ve been doing this a while and B-School is now in it’s 7th year so I’ve had now close to a decade of experience prior to that. And it’s been awesome. Like, I love it and I’m more energized now than I’ve ever been and my dreams are bigger and I’m more motivated and I feel like in some places I’m just getting started.
SUE B: Definitely. I just want to tell you that when I, when I first saw you at Gabby Bernstein’s book signing in New York City I just loved how you literally shined the light on Gabby and one of my favorite quotes is “The more you shine the light on others, the more the light shines on you.” And today I really want to shine the light on you and all that you do to help others understand the process of what they can do to put themselves out there and share their gifts and services with the world in a big way. So I’m wondering what advice can you give to multi-passionate entrepreneurs out there like us, who are juggling so many great ideas, to help them get focused on starting what’s going to make a difference.
MARIE: Yes, so one of my life mantras, it drives me every single day, it’s this: ‘Clarity comes from engagement not thought. You have to stop thinking yourself to death. You have to stop second guessing and wondering and just slide back and forth with all this indecision, you just have to do it.’ We have a program at B-School actually that helps those especially multi passionate folks like us, figure out which ones to execute on, which ones to choose. Honestly, you do have to take action, but there is something to thinking about things, thinking through them and evaluating things strategically and methodically so you can get out there and test quicker. I think though so many people don’t have any way to really vet their ideas through multiple lenses and see ‘is this going to be profitable, is this really aligning with my strengths, do I have any idea what this is gonna entail to get it off the ground, and am I willing to do that kind of work to make this thing come to life to make it actually be profitable; to stick with it over the long haul. So if this combination of knowing how to think through strategically how to vet your ideas and then of course as quickly as humanly possible, you have to take action, you have to test. So that is how you do it. You have to stop and commit to not living in this world of indecision and constantly going back and forth and just remember clarity comes from engagement not thought.
SUE B: I love that. Clarity comes from engagement not thought. I am writing that down because I agree 100 percent about the engagement piece. I think it’s so important to put yourself out there and be seen and get your message in front of people on all different platforms that really um, help you get visible and engaging and connecting.
MARIE: Yeah, and the thing is too, you have to understand, it’s not even just about getting your work out there it’ also about making big decisions in your business. Like should I or should i not hire someone. Well, you have to make an educated guess and then try it. The worst thing that could happen is it doesn’t work out. You know I’ve done that lots of times in my career and there are so many things that I’ve said ‘You know what, the only way I’m gonna figure out whether or not this is going to work is to try it.’ And I don’t get upset if it fails. I’m not going to get upset if it doesn’t work out the way that I thought it would. It gives me more depth, more of a perspective on how to move ahead and it gets me further faster. So I think we also have to just really pull the rug out from underneath this fear of failing or making the wrong choice because again, you’ll just look back in your life and you’ll talk to yourself about the same possibility for a decade, yet you’ve made no movement on it. It really is about kind of removing that fear and of course getting out there and taking action.
SUE B: Exactly. And having that be one of your life lessons. I really like that a lot. So I know that you’ve done a hashtag “shit ton” of hustling your whole life and you still work extremely hard every day. What is the difference in your daily life today than before you entered into this digital world?
MARIE: Well, you know I still work really hard every day and some ways I think I work even harder now than I did before. Problem being is there’s just so many more things to pay attention to. You know, when I was just starting I didn’t have the family that I have now, the relationships I have now. I didn’t have the team or the company I have now and other people relying on me. I didn’t have an audience that relies on as well to keep doing great things. So I still am working hard and in some ways a lot harder but some things that I’ve learned that are different and I’m really really proud of. You know back when I first started the world didn’t look like it did in terms of there’s no social media. You know there’s just the beginnings of eNom marketing. There was just the beginnings of online learning. And what I’ve noticed is that there’s a lot of pressure these days especially in our digital world to be on 24/7. To be constantly replying, constantly engaging, constantly creating content to put out to your audience or something else that you can work on the business. And while I love the blessing of technology and I love the internet and I love that it allows us to connect with almost anyone around the world; what it also does it has a dark side. And that dark side is ‘If you don’t stop points you and your team can literally work 24/7, 365. And that’s not healthy. We know that from science, we know that from experience, you know you will burn out. You will miss out on the important things in life, like moments with your family. Like, space to dream and to think. To have serendipitous moments, enjoy and play. So what we did a few years ago is, it was actually inspired by me walking around New York City and I had a craving for a croissant. I had like really big carb cravings. So I was walking past this little French street. It was the summertime and they had this white handwritten sign up on the door that said ‘Closed due to vacation’ . You know. ‘Back..’, And the date was like 2 weeks from now. And it was a light bulb moment for me. I was like ‘Gosh, of course they’re closed for vacation. It’s the middle of the summer!’ But I went home and immediately called my team and said we are shutting down our company for 2 weeks at a time. We’re going to do it twice a year at least. We’re going to do it Summer and we’re going to it over the holidays. We’re not just talking off we’re not just you know, the director of operations. Everybody’s is taking off, we not doing any social media, we’re not doing any marketing. No small children will die. We started doing that. And this is almost 2 years ago right now and it has been a game changer for our business. So when we’re on we’re on fully but when we’re off, we are totally unplugged. I mean it gives everyone such comfort I mean to just relax because they’re so diligent, they’re so dedicated they’re so inspired by what we do and then change we create in peoples lives, they don’t want to miss out on something. They also don’t want other people on the team to be picking up the slack or you know, if you’re on vacation and worried about coming back and something’s moved past you. So what this does is allows everyone to take time off at the same time. By the way they say still get other paid vacation, other weeks they can take whenever they want but these are the bumpers that we put in place to make sure that everyone has that extended down time and can take it together.
SUE B: I love it. You just gave me a light bulb moment for my team. I think more businesses need to do this. This really is life changing.
MARIE: It is. It’s life changing. It boosts your creativity. It’s how live should be lived. Quite frankly. You know I’m all for working hard. I never stop working. I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon. But I don’t think that, put it this way: You can work really, really hard, love what you do and it’s still vital that you take down time.
SUE B: Absolutely. Absolutely. Everyone needs to listen to that. That’s great advice. So I’m interested and I’m sure the listeners are. What does your team look like and how did you design it? Like, and the communication between your team, like what is that like.
MARIE: So my team is incredible. You know, we fluctuate in terms of our numbers. So right now, we’re in the middle of just about to go into our seventh year of B-School, so we bulk up a little bit in terms of more folks on board for more customer happiness, and you know different people that just help us make sure that everyone is taken care of and has an outstanding experience. We also have satellite teams. You know there’s some folks that I work with that aren’t necessarily full-time employees but they’re more like permanent contractors in sense that they help us produce Praise TV when it’s Praise TV season. There’s other people that help us work on other projects when there’s different technical and development things happening. So it’s an incredible ever flowing, ever changing team of what I consider geniuses. And honestly, I have to tell you Sue, we use the basics. Like our Slack channel rocks. It keeps our email inboxes as slow as humanly possible and you get a lot done. But we also use the simple things. Like you know, Google spreadsheets. They’re the best for keeping things organized and then good old fashioned phone called. Since it’s a virtual company we don’t work together in the same building 99% of the time. We’re really really good at communicating virtually. Having Skype calls, or video calls or just plain old simple phone calls.
SUE B: Yeah, I have to tell you Marie. Your customer happiness team just friggen rocks. They really do.
MARIE: There’s nothing more important to us than giving people an outstanding experience and we work really really hard to make people know and understand and demonstrate to them that they matter. I always tell people like, look you send my team an email and you don’t hear back, we literally didn’t get it. Some email gremlin ate it.
SUE B: Woah, that’s very evident to me and I can tell everyone listening that’s absolutely true that you reply to every email or your team members do for sure. So as creatives we can often get caught up in gaining the attention of those vanities numbers especially on social and I’m really curious what are the most important metrics to you, Marie?
MARIE: You know, the bottom line, Sue, for us is the company possible. That’s just the basic. Are we bringing in enough money to take care of everyone and that answer thank goodness knocking that wood has been yes and it always is yes. You know how are the trends going. Are we hitting the types of growth and profit numbers that we set out to and again, knock on wood that’s always been yes. But beyond that. I’ll tell you, for me, are we changing more lives? Are we getting incredible stories in? How is our engagement? What is the quality of that engagement. Am I waking up excited to do the work that I’m doing? You know, is my team happy? Are they growing as human beings. Are they sending me cards still telling me they feel like they have the best job in the world? I’m also always looking at our charitable work. Who are the organization we’re involved with? What’s the impact that we’re making? How can we make that in a bigger way. How can we be more creative? Who else should we be working with? So those are the metrics that matter to me. Honestly the most because the other numbers they can fluctuate. Sometimes they don’t really tell the whole story. You can upload videos to Facebook and if somebody clicks on a video for a second or two it counts as a view but is that really a view? You know, and for me, it’s like I need to pay attention to the big picture stuff that really matters and the things I listed. That’s what’s in my heart.
SUE B: Yeah, Like, waking up happy hands down and I love that you said making an impact in the world in a big way. Those really need to be heard from everyone. It’s not just, it’s not working, it’s how are you feeling and are you happy. So what can you say to people who are frustrated with the pace of their progress? I like to say progress not perfection because I think momentum is so much more important than just like pondering and wondering and waiting. And I have a feeling that you live by that to some degree as well.
MARIE: Yeah I mean we have hashtag “progress not perfection” in B-School it’s like the mantra that drives everybody along. So in terms of people who are frustrated with the pace of their progress I think first you have to be honest and you have to look in the mirror and tell yourself the truth about where you’re basing time. Because we all do, right? Whether we’re watching tv and don’t really count like ‘Oh I’m watching the news, or i’m just watching my one favorite show’. Is that really making your life move forward or your business move forward in a way that’s productive for you. Or some on social media. A lot of people can spend hours upon hours looking at their phone consuming content just kind of throwing themselves into honestly what I like to call the ‘Comparison -Hangover. When I was in school there was a disgusting liqueur called GoldSchaalger. It has these tiny little gold flakes in it. It was cinnamon flavor it was horrible. You had a couple of shots of that you were definitely throwing up in the bushes. In business it’s called Compare-Schlaager. And you waste hours looking at what everyone else is doing and then you feel like shit because you feel like you should be further along. And rather than actually getting your work done, and putting your pet down and focusing and moving the ball ahead. You’ve literally wasted hours not only consuming other people’s content but then feeling like shit about it. And it’s like having a hangover. You’re not at your best, hours go by, you’re beating yourself up and then another day comes and the cycle starts again. So I think if you’re frustrated with the pace of your progress. The first piece that you have to look at is to be really honest with how you are spending your time and look for things you can dial to optimize it. But then the other piece of the puzzle is this: You really do have to have patience. You have to have patience because frustration will get you nowhere. It’s a waste of your energy, it’ll kill your creativity. And everything that’s great takes time to build. You know we were talking about this earlier Sue. I’ve been doing this now for almost 17 years. I didn’t start to see any really type of real substantial growth until maybe my 5th or 6th or 7th year in business. Then it’s just continued to accelerate beyond there. But I run into people that are like, “God, I’ve been doing this for like 6 months and I don’t see any progress.” I’m like, ‘What?!” First what are you doing? Second of all are you really doing that much? Third of all, have some patience. Trust takes time to build. And in a business, any transactions that are going to come, are usually results of you having done enough of the hard work to build trust. So you have to have patience, you have to be in this for the long haul and you have really give yourself an opportunity to enjoy the ride because if you’re looking for a quick win, you need to get out of business and from my perspective there’s not that many of them.
SUE B: I love what you said about enjoy the ride. Even though the ride’s bumpy at times, just enjoying the ride and understanding that’s part of the process to the success.
MARIE: Oh my gosh. So part of the process, like, people have some mythological idea that when you quote unquote make it, which I don’t even know what that means, there are actually even more problems. People leave, people don’t keep their promises. Sometimes it’s just life happens. And the problems will continue increasing. You really have to ask yourself are you doing something you love. Cause when you are, you kind of even enjoy some of the challenges. I know for me, they’re not fun, but that’s when the best of me comes out. Like that’s when I dig in go ‘Ok, we’re gonna make it through this. We’re gonna get through this. We’re gonna find an answer. Everything is figure-out-able.’ Like I alway say. We’re gonna figure this out. And it can leave you feeling inspired not necessarily tired. So, have patience, enjoy the ride. Keep your sense of humor.
SUE B: And you definitely have a sense of humor so I love that you said that. So Marie, what motivates you every you know. To bring back B-school every year and it’s your seventh year as you said and you absolutely improve the program year after year. Pour your heart and soul into it. I’m just curious what motivates you?
MARIE: You know. I think the stories are found in various transformations have been in their businesses and their lives as a result of taking the courses the result of being engaged with the community as a result of training themselves to take consistent action always blow my mind. So anytime if I start to go ‘Ah, this, you know. Do I wanna keep going? And I hear those stories, I meet someone on the street who comes up to me and hugs me and tells me that how their whole life has changed. All it does is want to fuel me. And i really believe at this particular time on the planet that we as a human society need to harness the creativity and the ingenuity of creatives and the makers and entrepreneurs in every shape and form that they show up in and we have to give people the tools that they need to start and grow businesses that not only make a profit but that really make a difference. And then we have a tremendous opportunity to do good in this world. With this income inequality how it’s not only growing here in the US but how it grows globally that we need to take back our power. Give ourselves every opportunity possible to create our own economies and to do so in such a way that doesn’t just take care of us, that doesn’t just look out for ‘oh how can I have this much money for me, and take from someone else’ but how can I build a business and a livelihood in such a way that everyone benefits. That I can lift other people up. If you so choose. If you wanna devote your ideas. You wanna devote your products your services, your expertise. Or even money to organizations that are doing great work overall. I think we have this awesome opportunity to really make substantial change. Not just now, but in the future. And that motivates me every single day.
SUE B: I love that. I love that Marie. You know last year we offered a workshop at my house on Cape Cod as one of our bonuses for those who join B-School with us and we had a mixed group of artists, and coaches and lifestyle personalities and photographers. It was really exciting. You know those type of creators make up a big part of our audience. What would you say to people who are on the fence? Actually today I just a message from someone in Scandinavia who likes to knit and she’s creating books and patterns and teaching and she asked me if B-School was a good idea for her.
MARIE: I honestly and I’m not just saying this because I’m the creator, I’m saying this because of the fact that I’ve seen the tens of thousands of people we had go through it and it expands 160 industries. That’s how much diversity we have in the kinds of business people that come through B- School across 112 countries. So it works. People say will this work for me? It makes me think of one of our B-Schoolers Rebecca Halls who came into the program who was passionate about hula hoops and hula hooping. She was able to take the principals and the ideas and the mindsets and the practices of B-School and create a complete unique profitable business her way. And so for folks who say ‘Is B-School right for me?” first i would say trust your heart and your instincts. If you’ve watched our free training. If you’ve looked at all the material online that we have to offer. You know whether or not you want this. You have to trust it. Obviously if you find me compelling, you’re going to find B-School friggen awesome. If you find me annoying, you’re going to hate it. So don’t sign up. I don’t want anyone at B-School who shouldn’t be there. That’s why we have a money back guarantee. So essentially could you come in. You gotta do the work. But you got the first two modules to really test drive it. Again you have to do the work. We don’t allow (tire-papers programs?). What that means is essentially if you sign up for B-School and you go through the first 2 modules. We are going to ask for your completed homework in order to give you a refund. That allows us to know you actually did the work you gave it a good honest try. And if you do that you still don’t find value you can get 100% of your money back. So I think you know, in life it’s like you can sit around and go ‘ yeah, should i or shouldn’t i” The next decade of your life is going to pass by whether you do something or not. And I think that from what I’ve seen and I’ve taken a look at the landscape, there’s no better program for big-hearted, creative, quirky kind people who want to figure out in a very unique way, to share their gifts with the world and to do online marketing and sales in a way that is completely transparent that capitalizes on your generosity, on your compassion, on your desire to make a difference and to do so in a way that’s totally unique and aligned with your values.
SUE B: Absolutely. And I am a living testament to everything you said, including the quirky. So what are your favorite ingredients that you love to put in your green juice?
MARIE: Mint, lime, kale, cucumber, celery, romaine and apple. Love when they’re bright and they’re fresh and they’re super green and that combo does this.
SUE B: Super green it is. Yes for sure. Ok, I know that you love to work out. And especially dance. So, what is your favorite workout and your hardest workout?
MARIE: Favorite workout has to be when there is an incredible new and fantastic and great choreography in one of my dance classes like hip-hop. And In terms of hardest it’s I love this workout called Pop physique. It’s kind of big here on the west coast. It’s just a torture chamber and I absolutely love it. It uses mostly your body weight and some bar work but it’s really tough and if I haven’t gone in a few days it’s even tougher.
SUE B: Is that a franchise or is there just one in New York.
MARIE: No, It’s actually in LA. It’s up and down the coast of California. I guess it’s a franchise? I don’t really know their business structure.
SUE B: Alright, and what are reading right now?
MARIE: So, I’m re-reading ‘Mans Search for Meaning’ by Victor Frankel. Just I mean an incredible moving and sobering book. Holocaust survivor, really talking about what it is to live a meaningful life despite your circumstances.
SUE B: Mm that sounds like a great one, I have to get that. So, you have so many great quotes. Is there one that just rolls off your tongue when asks you “What’s your favorite quote”?
MARIE: Hands down, “Everything is figure-out-able”.
SUE B: Yes, I have heard that a lot. Ask the Google as Marie always says. And my last question is, and I love seeing you on Instagram Marie. What is your favorite Insta account?
MARIE: The one I appreciate is @DesignSponge because they will curate the most beautiful images from their community. It’s always delightful there’s lots of flowers which I love, lots of design elements which are fun too.
SUE B: Yeah that is one of my favorite accounts as well. Awesome. Kindred spirits on Instagram with you Marie. Hey thanks so much for all your time. I really appreciate and I know the listeners are just going to love hearing all the golden nuggets that you share with us today. Thanks so much.
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